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Color grading in AE via PS

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Kevin CaminColor grading in AE via PS
by on Mar 16, 2011 at 5:43:04 am

Let me know if this is out of line or not.

I currently have skill at photo processing and retouching to a high degree. I am skilled at Photoshop adjustments and its luma/chroma monitoring tools to perform a nice adjustment on an image.

I am in the process of learning video color grading software and am aware of their tools and capabilities.

I recently was asked to help color grade a video destined for the web--therefore I wasn't pressured to make it stringently broadcast safe. What I did was render a hero frame from AE from each scene (lighting stayed consistent through out each sene) and color correct them in PS with adjustment layers. I them imported the PS file into AE as a layered comp and applied those adjustment layers to my video footage. Everything looks exactly the same in AE as in PS after the adjustments. I think the effects in AE and PS work the same way (curves, hue/sat, vibrance/sat, etc.)

Is this a legitimate way to color correct AE footage?

I just feel AE itself is limited to luma/chroma inspection; I can't drop eye dropper marks down to analyze changes. I can use a target adjustment tool in AE to tweak specific curve points. I can't tune the curves in AE very well (less fine tune control).

Thanks for reading.

I look forward to your replies.

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Tudor "Ted" JelescuRe: Color grading in AE via PS
by on Mar 16, 2011 at 7:55:17 am

While your method may work on some projects, I would recommend looking into Color Finesse (comes with AE now)or Colorista (Magic Bullet). These are really designed for color correction and grading for video.

Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Senior VFX Artist

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Gary HazenRe: Color grading in AE via PS
by on Mar 16, 2011 at 2:52:51 pm

[Kevin Camin] "Is this a legitimate way to color correct AE footage?"

No. It's a clunky workaround because you're comfortable with PS. Step out of you comfort zone and learn to cc within AE.

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Kevin CaminRe: Color grading in AE via PS
by on Mar 16, 2011 at 7:52:16 pm

I agree. I am learning Apple Color and Color Finesse currently.

But I think there are some people who are not colorists, who use AE's color correction filters to do their color corrections, and I think AE is not really set up to do this well. I think PS is a much better environment to analyze and manipulate tone and color (sample points with variable sizes, target adjustment tools, out of gamut warnings, finer controls with many of the filters) After I made my corrections in PS, the adjustment layers can be imported directly to AE and applied to my comp--they are the same filters: curves/levels, hue/sat, vibrance, etc. and behave in the exact same way.

It's just that in AE they can be tough to use. For example, imagine you are using the 'Curves' filter to color correct your footage. Besides the curve box itself being incredible small and hard to manipulate. You can't click an area of you footage to place a point on the curve. You can't set down color sample points to see numerically what you are doing while adjusting the curve--you need to run the arrow to the image area in question and look at the info panel then back to the curve then back to the image (and as far as I know I think the arrow in AE is point sampling the color information and there is no option to have is average pixel clusters such as 5x5 or 11x11).

I'm comfortable using all the color correction filters inside AE, but I don't think they are hard to use in the AE environment.

But I agree that a colorist 3rd party app is best.

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Dennis DunbarRe: Color grading in AE via PS
by on Mar 17, 2011 at 9:58:06 pm

I'm also a long time PS user but new to After Effects. I find the same frustrations color correcting/grading in AE you do. It sounds clunky, but actually can be quite fast to bounce between PS and AE figuring out what adjustments you want to use.

One thing to remember is that you can save settings for Curves etc in PS and then open them in AE. Cuts a step out of your process as you don't need to import the comp.

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Kevin CaminRe: Color grading in AE via PS
by on Mar 18, 2011 at 4:52:16 pm

Nice to run into you on here Dennis. We swapped a few messages on the ASMP listserve.

Dennis I like your idea about saving the preset in PS and just loading it inside AE within the matching filter.

I think a dedicated color grading program like DaVinci, Apple Color, etc. is the way to go for professional color corrections and mandatory if you are doing broadcast work. But there are more and more things solely going to web and often a formal colorist is not a part of the pipeline. The color corrections might land in the lap of the editor or mographer, and they might not have the skill sets of working with color grading software. So they end up using the color correction tools inside After Effects. They suck!!! They are ridiculously difficult to manipulate and you have almost no immediate feedback to what you are doing.

Here is a screen shot comparing the 'Curves' control.

With PS, you can lay down up to four sample points on your image and monitor the RGB values while you color correct. You can click directly on parts of the image in PS to laydown points on the curves. The list goes on and on.

PS is currently the end all for "color grading" photography.

I think if you are stuck using AE for color correcting, it might be worthwhile to find your filter settings inside PS. You can tell exactly what is happening to the entire frame.

My 2 cents.

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